Thoughts on the Covid Pandemic of 2020 - 2022

(3/27/2021)


 

                      Will Smith as "Jay": "Why the big secret?  People are smart, they can handle it."
        Tommy Lee Jones as "Kay": "A person is smart.  People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it."

                                                         -- from the 1997 movie: "Men in Black"

Foreword:
These my own personal notes and thoughts of what occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic from my perspective.  I write it down so that I don't forget my perspective at the time. This page isn't to convince anybody of anything. This year has taught me I cannot influence either individuals or government policy, and I no longer want to try.   

There are a variety of different things that were at play during this pandemic in 2020 - 2021, one of which is that a virus appeared called "SARS-CoV-2" that infected and killed many people which was a great tragedy.  What also occurred was a spectacularly self destructive response in our society I've never before witnessed in my 53 years on this planet.  A series of circumstances led people to make a bad situation much worse.


Timeline of Events:
Because this is from my perspective, and a large amount of my life is centered around the company I formed and worked at for 13 years leading up to the pandemic called Backblaze.

- 12/15/2019 - The "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrom Coronavirus 2" or "SARS-CoV-2" or "2019 Novel Coronavirus" or "COVID-19" virus is identified.
- 1/10/2020 - The company BioNTech began developing a vaccine based on mRNA technology that eventually becomes the Pfizer vaccine. Human trials began 2 months later in March, approved by FDA on December 11, 2020.
- 1/20/2020 - The company "Moderna" began developing a vaccine based on mRNA technology. Human trials began 2 months later in March of 2020, approved by the FDA on December 18, 2020.
- 1/30/2020 - The World Heath Organization (WHO) declares the outbreak an emergency
- 3/6/2020 - Backblaze employees all sent home, office is shut down for more than an entire year with 3 hours warning. That same day Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter did the same.
- 3/11/2020 - The WHO declares it a "pandemic"
- 12/11/2020 - The first vaccine gets an "Emergency Use Authorization" (EUA) approved by the FDA (Pfizer). The second vaccine (Moderna) get EUA 7 days later. The third vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) gets EUA on February 28, 2021.
- 1/28/2021 - The very first Backblaze employee receives first dose of a vaccine. He received "Moderna mRNA-1273".
- 2/13/2021 - The second Backblaze employee receives first dose of vaccine (Pfizer).
- 3/4/2021 - I receive my first dose.  I'm Brian Wilson, Founder and CTO of Backblaze. Brian received the Pfizer vaccine. Click here for pictures, videos, explanation. (Texas)
- 3/5/2021 - The fourth Backblaze employee receives her first dose of vaccine. (California)
- 3/6/2021 - On the one year anniversary of the Backblaze San Mateo headquarters being closed, Brian suggests re-opening the San Mateo office for fully vaccinated employees to return IF THEY WANT TO RETURN.  This was unanimously rejected, the office will stay locked indefinitely, nobody is allowed to use it.
- 3/8/2021 - The fifth Backblaze employee receives his first dose. (Texas)
- 3/10/2021 - The sixth employee (another officer in the company) receives his SECOND dose. (California) He got his first dose 3 weeks earlier as part of "they have extra doses" got lucky situation.
- 3/10/2021 - The seventh employee receives her first dose. (California)
- 3/11/2021 - The eighth employee receives his first dose. (California)
- 3/12/2021 - The ninth employee receives his first dose. (Texas)
- 3/12/2021 - The tenth employee receives receives his first dose. (California)
- 3/13/2021 - The eleventh employee (Derman Uzunoglu) receives his first dose. Johnson and Johnson. (California)
- 3/13/2021 - The twelfth employee gets his first dose (Oklahoma)
- 3/15/2021 - The thirteenth employee gets first dose (Texas)
- 3/17/2021 - The fourteenth employee gets first dose (California - employee was in in Sacramento but made trek to Merced, second dose will be in Davis)
- 3/30/2021 - I (Brian) receive my 2nd dose of Pfizer, as of this point "fully vaccinated".
- 3/31/2021 - The fifteenth employee gets first dose (California)
- 7/6/2021 - Backblaze office is open first the first time to employees who really want to use it. Before this it was locked. Special permission had to be granted to go in.
- 8/3/2021 - San Mateo (where the Backblaze main corporate office is located) re-institutes mask mandates, even indoors, even for vaccinated people.
- 8/23/2021 - Pfizer-BioNTech Covid Vaccine gets full approval from the FDA.  Click here for one article.
- 10/5/2021 - I (Brian) receive my 3rd Pfizer shot called "a booster".
- 11/11/2021 - Backblaze has an IPO and we all travel to New York.  Click here for info.
- 12/23/2021 - Articles begin appearing in mainstream media saying that not only do scientists now say Covid is "endemic" but people have come to accept that fact.  Like this article. And this one.
- 1/6/2022 - Articles begin appearing in mainstream media saying Omicron is dominant and is less deadly than the flu, like this article.
- 2/7/2022 - I (Brian) receive my 4th Pfizer shot before heading to Mexico on a weekend vacation.  There isn't a name for this one, maybe "double boostered"?
- 2/16/2022 - Most San Francisco counties drop the indoor mask mandate including San Mateo (where the Backblaze office is).   Article here.
- 5/10/2022 - Date given as official "Backblaze Office Re-Opens".
- 10/31/2022 - Halloween has returned to at least 80% of normal for the San Francisco Bay Area. In Austin parents shake hands with parents greeting them with smiles (not masks).
- 11/28/2022 - China has people protesting being locked down, Americans cheer on the protestors.  One article: https://www.npr.org/2022/11/29/1139509250/china-lockdown-protests-xi-jinping-zero-covid-policy
 

Covid Deaths by Age in 2020:
In the chart below, it shows some numbers of Covid deaths sorted by age, and the total in 2020 of 329,000. The source is: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1191568/reported-deaths-from-covid-by-age-us/ and archived here if that link is dead or changes over time (the archive is the "Wayback Machine - The Internet Archive".  There are 328 million people in the United States in total.

 

 

Most People are TERRIBLE at Evaluating Statistical Risk:
In psychology circles, there are a TON of studies that show human beings are terrible at evaluating risk.  Abysmal.  This is our reality.  Here is one of many articles written well before Covid existed: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-inertia-trap/201303/why-are-people-bad-evaluating-risks  I have also observed this all of my life.

A "cognitive bias" is a "systemic error" in the way humans think.  It leads to irrational and incorrect decisions.  There is a list of irrational biases here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases.

One particular mistake people make is that they evaluate "new risks" as much more serious as any risk "that we are accustomed to".  As an engineer, I have some slightly autistic tendencies.  One of those is that I don't seem to be as emotionally affected by the "new" threats as the average person. This has gotten me in SOCIAL trouble several times in my life.  There is a concept in comedy called "too soon".  Professional comedians cannot joke about tragedy that is "recent" because it hurts people's feelings.  But once enough time has passed, the identical joke becomes "funny".  Professional comedians can joke about Custer's Last Stand because it was so long ago.  But the same comedians can't tell the same identical joke about a military operation in Iraq a week after it occurred.  I'm not talking about jokes on this webpage, but that's the concept most people can grasp - recent events are too emotional and overwhelm people's logical abilities to calculate risk. 

Another particular mistake most people make is that if they read about something in the news often, or talk about it often with others, their brains keep FALSELY raising the statistical level of the threat.

Another well know psychological bias is called "Loss Aversion".  People are irrationally afraid of PERCEIVED risks, as compared with the real rewards of ignoring those risks. Here is one link about this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_aversion_(psychology)#Societal_applications and another link here: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/prospect-theory/

Covid-19 was a perfect storm to be incorrectly assessed as a larger threat than it was by people because it was 1) recent, and 2) everybody talked about it everywhere all of the time, and 3) the perceived risk was very serious: death. One thing that elevated the risk in people's minds was seeing EVERYBODY wear a mask.  I'm not saying masks were bad for preventing the spread of disease, but the fact that EVERYBODY was wearing a mask reminded us daily there was this new threat called Covid.  To keep this forefront in our lizard brains: during the height of the pandemic, you could not read two mainstream news articles without at least one of them being about Covid.  You couldn't read 3 Facebook or Twitter posts without one of them being about Covid.  This pummeled our lizard brains with information saying, "Covid is the single most important issue, do anything to survive Covid."

Here is a chart of what people die of in the United States that I often look at, you can verify these statistics easily:

Heart Disease: 611,105 people per year (2/10th of 1% of the population - 186 out of 100,000)
Cancer: 584,881 people per year (2/10th of 1% of the population)
Hospital Error: 250,000 people per year - reference: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/05/03/476636183/death-certificates-undercount-toll-of-medical-errors
Chronic Respiratory Disease (smoking): 149,205 people per year (45 out of 100,000)
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557 people per year
Stroke: 128,978 people per year
Influenza ("the flu"): 50,000 people per year on an average year, as high as 80,000 in a bad year like 2018.  (15 out of 100,000)
Auto Accidents: 33,000 people per year (!!!!)
Gun SUICIDES: 21,175 people per year
Swimming Pool Drownings: 3,536 people per year (1 out of 100,000)
Gun accidentals: 700 people per year
Commercial Airplane Crashes: 32 people per year (0.01 out of 100,000)
Mass shootings: 28 people per year (0.008 out of 100,000 - basically "zero" out of 100,000)

NEW SIDE NOTE 11/28/2022 - the above "Hospital Error" number is challenged by this article: https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/critical-thinking-health/medical-error-not-third-leading-cause-death which cites two studies saying hospital errors are between 44,000 and 98,000 people which would re-rank it in this list.

If you asked people which they were more worried about: dying of a mass shooting or drowning, 99% of people would say "Mass Shooting" - and they are all dead wrong.  Badly, horribly wrong.  I believe this is because drownings are never national news.  For whatever reason, EVERY mass shooting is read about and known by EVERY person in the United States, but when somebody drowns only the local friends and family know about it and grieve.  Please don't freak out and think this is some argument against gun control, or in favor of "pool control" - that's missing the ENTIRE POINT of what I'm saying here.  I'm saying people absolutely suck at evaluating statistical risk in their lives.  We're only talking about Covid here.

Covid killed about 329,000 people in the United States in the worst year of 2020.  That's bad.  About the same as heart disease and cancer each killed in the previous year.  And the population it killed were the same population as heart disease and cancer (older people).  So if you were somebody older than say 60 years old in the year of Covid, this was a VERY REAL THREAT to you, and it was ON TOP OF your large chance of dying that was the "baseline" in a normal year.

However, in the long run of most people's lives of 78.54 years, Covid will disappear down into the range of 0.00002 out of 100,000.  Yes it was a close call like that time you almost had a head on collision but swerved at the last second.  Yes it was scary.  But those of us that survive Covid and car crashes will live a very long time afterwards, and then die of Heart Disease or Cancer like most people in the USA do.  And just like Heart Disease or Cancer, young people like 24 year olds never needed to worry at all, it was CLEARLY about in the range of dying in a commercial airline flight in 2020.  I was 53 years old in 2020 - if I look at my risk of dying of Covid-19 in 2020 it was about the same as dying in a car crash on my way to work.  In 2019 I drove to work 250 times and didn't think it was worth staying at home to avoid the risk.  I decided to drive to work in 2019 because I chose the reward of getting paid over the risk of dying.  I am using this example of driving to work, because in 2020 the government forced me to stay home from work because of this same risk.  The government made the decision to damage my finances, damaged my friend's businesses, destroy people's life savings, destroy their lives and relationships over something about as dangerous to me as driving to work.

I know I won't ever convince even one person that "the two year long economic lockdown wasn't worth it".  Their lizard brains just can't process the raw information: that faced with the identical risk in 2019 they accepted the risk of driving to work in order to make money - it was worth it.  But in 2020 they were DEATHLY AFRAID of something the same risk to the point of ruining lives, causing suicides and depression.  I know people will try to defend the conclusions their irrational lizard brains came up with - that's what people do. I do it, we all do it.  People will rationalize this saying things like "driving is not contagious" (doesn't matter, that doesn't affect the outcome).  But it's a rationalization trying desperately to defend a flawed conclusion.

Now, I'm not saying there is "one correct decision" when it comes to how much one individual wants to avoid one particular risk: I believe it is a highly personal choice. My problem comes in when somebody ELSE forces me into a decision to avoid a risk that I do not agree with, and that CLEARLY the mathematics and statistics show I shouldn't be forced into this bad decision. In this case, I'm talking about the individuals in government and my co-workers and friends forcing upon me (and other people) their irrational fears of Covid-19 not supported by the raw mathematical numbers. When other (flawed) people in government decide to close OTHER people's businesses, decimate OTHER people's life savings, destroy OTHER people's lives and relationships - that's where I have an issue.

People are profoundly terrible at estimating risks.  This doesn't make their feelings invalid, it is just something to understand and take into account. 

 

The Law of Unintended Consequences (or focusing too much on one number):
Related to the above problem that people have trouble correctly evaluating risks is the law of unintended consequences.  Everybody agrees that "all things being equal" it would be good to reduce deaths from Covid.  The problem is all things are not equal. 

If you only focus on reducing Covid deaths, you would lock everybody in a cage at least 100 feet from every other person until they went insane from lack of social interaction. After that, if you continue to only worry about Covid deaths, some of those people will commit suicide.  The problem with focusing on one thing (Covid deaths) instead of taking a holistic approach towards the health of society is it leads to unintended consequences like suicides.

I bring up suicides just to try to get the point through, but it is absolutely the same identical error to simply focus on "maximize survival" of all things.  Even if there weren't any suicides, a life locked in a cage is not worth living.  It's hard for me to comprehend how other people's minds work, and that this isn't completely obvious: we do "risky" things all the time because they are fun.  At some point in our lives, we engage in "fun" activities like we sky dive out of airplanes, we ride motorcycles, we drink alcohol, we have sex with people we just met, we order a diabetes inducing dessert in a restaurant.  I know some neurotic people in software engineering that live their lives trying to extend their life to the maximum number of years by staying at home all the time, only eating the most healthy foods, never taking any risks, never ordering a dangerous dessert even once in 20 years.  And I consider those people mentally ill and feel sorry for them. They will outlive me, but be miserable the entire time.

I'm not saying you should only eat dessert, and never avoid risk.  I'm saying there is a balance.  And in a Covid pandemic, that means balancing the risk of a supportive hug of a friend with the risk of dying from Covid.

During the pandemic, everybody lost their minds and focused ONLY on Covid deaths, and ignored that sometimes we want to do "fun" things that are risky. 

 

The Moving Goalposts of Government Imposed Lockdowns:
One of the things that occurred during the pandemic was the government moved the goalposts around.  Constantly.  On March 16, California issued a "stay at home" order.  This shutdown the economy and shut down many businesses and schools, there was a mantra: "Two Weeks to Flatten the Curve" or "15 Days to Flatten the Curve".  The idea was the same number of people would get the disease, but if we just "flattened the curve" the health care system would not become overwhelmed. Here is one animation of the concept: 

Pretty much everybody agreed that we could handle "two weeks" of economic shutdown, so this had widespread public support, and people ignored that the government just suspended an amazing number of constitutional rights.  In everybody's minds (mine included), we accepted this because in two weeks the rights would be restored, no big deal.

Then the goalposts changed.  The "two weeks to flatten the curve" morphed out to "do not re-open until Covid-19 is eradicated".  Here is one article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/moving-the-shutdown-goal-posts-11587078025. Personally I believe this was accidental.  A variety of things happened all at once.  People got scared, all of the politicians on both sides tried to politicize and gain advantage through a public health issue, the media made TONS of extra money as everybody clicked on articles talking about Covid-19.

 

 

The Viciousness against People with Information or Opinions that didn't agree with the Narrative:
A recurring theme I noticed early on was that if somebody like me said, "Hey guys, good news, children are not harmed by Covid very often" I was viciously attacked and ostracized.  Initially I was confused by this, what kind of psychopath doesn't like good news?  What kind of monster wants children to die? I learned to just stop explaining why it wasn't so bad - I wasn't convincing anybody, I lost friends, and the friends that remained thought I was unbalanced.  The fact that I was factually correct, and proven in time to be correct did not help.  To this day nobody has ever approached me and said, "you remember when I yelled at you and called you a Nazi?  It turns out you were dead accurate, totally correct, and I'm sorry about being mean to you." 

About half way through the first year of the pandemic I found some "Lockdown Skeptic" groups on the internet, and this was a universal experience.  Repeat a fact that wasn't horrible like "the only good thing is it doesn't kill children very often" and the person saying it was shouted out of the room.  There was something about "good news" that was bad, anti-social.  As just one of thousands of data points that many people experienced this same phenomenon, here is a tweet from November 24, 2020 expressing these thoughts from another person:

One particular version of this anger towards people with different opinions was mocking people viciously as "stupid" if the people wanted to retain one or more of their civil liberties like the right to assemble with others, or the ability to travel freely, or the right to operate your legal business the way you always had - as long as it didn't cause any harm, as long as it was only FULLY INFORMED consenting adults in a one on one setting like a haircut.  People that wanted to retain their rights asked this question: at some low level of danger, is it so bad to retain SOME individual freedom and not hand over dictator level control with zero checks and balances to the (flawed) individuals in government?  This question was met with ridicule and hatred.  A common spelling ridiculing people who asked politely if they could still assemble one on one with other consenting adults was to say these hateful idiots wanted their "free-dumbs".  Wow.  Is it REALLY so bad to ask for something spelled out in the Bill of Rights?  Something we used to be proud of?  That certain rights are so profound, they are "inalienable"?  This question was mocked and attacked as if it was OBVIOUS the government is always correct, the government always has our best interests at heart, that no individual in the government has ever been found to be corrupt and out for personal gain. 

Personally, I take this truth to be self evident: it is NOT rare AT ALL that we find corrupt government officials that abuse their power.  Asking politely to exercise your civil rights should not be mocked.

 

The Media Profiteered:
Another recurring theme I watched the entire year was that articles that promoted fear sold more copies, and the media couldn't be bothered with the truth, or their responsibility.  This was so bad, and the effects on society were so dire, I honestly feel each journalist should be investigated and punished/sanctioned for their behavior if they KNEW what they were printing was implying untrue things and fanning the flames of panic and yet wrote it in a way to make it even worse just for "clicks".  The term for this is "click bait" in my industry.  Normally it's essentially harmless - an article with a title "You won't believe how beautiful these 10 women are" gets more clicks than "Here are 10 pictures of fashion models".  So the industry is given a lot of leeway.  In this case they contributed to TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS of loss.  Loss of human life even. 

Complicit in this were the large internet companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc that also gain revenue from these "click bait" fear mongering articles.  In the second half of the pandemic, these large companies started actively censoring information that they deemed "untrue", which I have no issues with.  They kicked certain people off their platforms for consistently lying like President Trump, and that probably contributed to stability and was arguably justified.  But not one of these organizations stopped articles that fanned the flames of panic by presenting Covid as "unknown" and "more dangerous than any other form of disease we know about" even though none of that was factually true.

To be clear, I don't think there was any grand conspiracy.  It was a random set of circumstances where Google and Twitter were highly aligned with the interests of the fear mongering journalists and profited from their half true articles.  But make no mistake, Google and Twitter looked the other way in order to make more money, and allowed VAST misconceptions about science to stand uncontested on their platforms.  And the more people heard Google and Twitter were fact checking, this had an unfortunate side effect of leading people to incorrect conclusions about how dangerous Covid-19 was to our society and to our people.  Was Covid bad?  Yes.  Was Covid a great tragedy?  Yes. Did Covid kill a whole lot of people?  Yes.  Should that excuse Google and Twitter letting incorrect statistics that inflated the numbers of deaths stand unopposed, not fact checked?  No, it should not.

EDIT 5/1/2021: I present to you the most morally bankrupt article that has ever been published: https://wamu.org/story/21/05/01/covid-doesnt-discriminate-by-age-serious-cases-on-the-rise-in-younger-adults/ "  The title is: COVID 'Doesn't Discriminate By Age'" The author (Will Stone) and his editors that allowed him to publish these factual errors fanning the flames of ignorance and bad statistics to profiteer on clicks is either the most horrible human being willing to lie like some sociopathic monster and should be placed in jail for writing this inflammatory piece when he knows it is totally incorrect (and I do not say that lightly, I mean that from the depths of my seething hatred for lies), or Will Stone is one of the most totally mentally challenged journalists ever to hold a job, and needs to be fired and put in a mental institution for the criminally insane. It's one or the other.  He cannot process even the MOST ESTABLISHED statistics, even the most basic statistics.  The overwhelming evidence that Covid DOES discriminate by age.  Will Stone is claiming in this article that COVID infections and fatalities have zero correlation with the age of the person exposed.  Let's just pause there, and grasp the damage Will Stone is doing to society.  He is reporting pure lies that have been disproven over and over and over and over again.  The CDC disagrees with him.  The WHO disgrees with him.  This is how bad it is: every single scientist ever published (even the stupid ones) disagree with him.  He is saying children die from Covid every bit as often as older people.  And people will read this article and repeat it on social media, and Google won't take it down, even though Google knows it is the diametric opposite of factually true.  Just stop and ponder everything that went wrong here, and how Will Stone should be punished, and his editors should be punished, and anybody associated with repeating this should be punished.  Put in jail even.  We know it's lies.  Oh wow, is this the biggest lie of all time.  And this is after study after study after study says Will Stone is dead wrong.  And not in a small way, like "oops, I was rounding up by 10%".  Here is a chart of how many people died of Covid in California under age 18:

Ummmmm..... zero is kind of a powerful number.  Somebody with even the most basic IQ of 60 can process the number zero, and at an IQ of 60 they are functionally mentally retarded by definition.  But Will Stone could print this and his editors couldn't figure out it wasn't even close to correct, or chose to overlook how it wasn't even close to factually correct.   It was the opposite of correct, and they are so morally bankrupt they allowed it to be released.  How do these people look at themselves in the mirror in the morning, knowing the lives they are ruining, the devastation they are causing, the people they are influencing to make decisions counter to everything scientists are trying to do and say, "Oh well, I got 500 clicks and it paid out 10 cents, it was worth it."  Just stop and think about that.  What we have here is a Jeffrey Dahmer level sociopath.  They just sold out humanity and our society for 10 cents worth of clicks.  It would not surprise me if Will Stone has some under age human heads in his refrigerator so he can chew on them later.  That's how bad Will Stone is.
 

The Media Misrepresents What Scientists Say:
Another recurring theme I watched the entire year was that scientists and researchers would say things like, "We have studied Coronavirus in the past, and all the other variants after you get infected once you are generally immune from infection somewhere from 1 year to 3 years."  Journalists would ask the scientists, "Are you absolutely sure it will be that way this time?"  Scientists are very pedantic, and they would say, "No, we're not completely totally 100% rock solid sure, but we're pretty confident to 99.999% certain it will turn out that way."  The journalists would then write the headline, "Scientists don't know anything about this Covid-19, if it doesn't kill you, you will probably get infected again within 2 months and it will kill you then."  I watched this repeat over and over again, here are some of the things scientists (and myself) were very sure of early on, that turned out true, that caused MASSIVE vicious attacks by my friends verbally against me when I tried to explain.  Remember, I was correct in every one of these, but was attacked for suggesting it was the likely truth (and then it turned out all of these were true):

  1. Risk is proportional to age. If you look at the chart above you notice: Children simply don't die from this.  That is different than ALSO noticing on that chart that everyone between the ages of 18 and 60 are at some medium but perfectly normal risk that comes with life.  Finally, that chart also shows that Covid-19 is extremely dangerous to people over 70 years old.  Because of this last part it is my belief we should have taken all the TRILLIONS of dollars we spent trying to protect "everybody" and instead have focused ALL OF IT on protecting the older people. 

    Another way to think about this is that the death rate of people under 50 is less than the flu - so behave like you understand that.  This was totally rejected, people panicked unnecessarily.

    Another way to think about this is that the death rate of children age 5 - 17 is pretty much zero, nada - so behave like you understand that.  This was totally rejected.  Schools were closed in California to protect the children.  This harmed the children, and harmed the parents who had to take time off of work to watch the children and home educate them.  It was irrational.  A few articles came out very early saying "Children are More likely to get hit by Lightning than Die of Covid".  It didn't matter, people were irrationally afraid, and the media fed on it, and social media repeated the incorrect information.  Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/06/09/school-age-children-likely-hit-lightning-die-coronavirus-oxbridge/
     
  2. Once you get sick once, you are immune for 1 - 3 years.  This is common knowledge considered most likely be true by all scientists (and myself) early in the pandemic, rejected by media and public until very late in the pandemic.  Whenever I would mentioned it, I would get attacked saying, "You just made that up."  The thing is, Coronavirus has been studied extensively in the past, and that's how it has always been.  Guess what?  This variant was the same.  The 99.99% likelihood came true, like expected.
     
  3. Scientists already have some good ideas and can apply their past experiences.  In the point above I mentioned Coronavirus has been studied extensively.  There are probably 500 technical papers written about it, the summary of 500 studies.  This was a variant, so parts were new, but based on all the OTHER variants a lot of likely scenarios were expected, and in fact came true.  But the media often ignored that, they rarely mentioned it was an area that had extensive background, history, and we could predict some things.  The media headlines might be "Scientists are stumped, never seen anything like this before." 
     
  4. Lockdowns and masks won't make much difference.  Just after everything went sideways and the infection was already inside the United States in SEVERAL places, the WHO and leading scientists said, "Whoops, you can only contain a pandemic early, once it is inside your borders it is too late for economic lockdowns to help."  They were promptly shouted down, and there are many cases where these scientists explained they were sanctioned for presenting evidence against the narrative that economic lock downs and masks would help, so they just decided to stay quiet.

    Early in pandemic: Dr John Ioannidis (absolutely STUNNING credentials) explained why scientists thought you can't lock down after some point, and all studies had shown this to be true pre-pandemic.  Ioannidis was attacked viciously for saying this. 

    By end of pandemic: Sweden and Florida never locked down and never mandated masks and had the identical death rates to California who did the opposite.  Literally you can't tell them apart. Now the masks and economic lockdowns may or may not have had an effect, but to warrant this level of sacrifice of civil liberties, and the utter destruction of people's life savings and their small businesses they took years to build, it better be "more clear on a graph" for goodness sake.  And it is not.  Nobody can find a correlation between masks, lockdowns, and pandemic deaths that is statistically significant. There are some very VERY low quality studies that blow mist at masks and show it doesn't go through, but all studies of ACTUAL IN THE FIELD experiences prior to 2019 say masks are meant for bacteria not viruses, and that the general public doesn't wear masks correctly.  In the end, the general public didn't comply enough, didn't wear paper masks (cloth doesn't work very well), and didn't discard the masks every hour as doctors do when it is important.  In the end these measures had no effect at all.  We all WANTED these measures to work, but you can't find their effect in any chart showing death rates before and after masks were mandatory.  Article: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/933977
     
  5. Once vaccinated, you won't get the virus, so you can't pass it to others.  When the vaccines first came out, there was this strange narrative about how you would still get the disease at the same rate as before, and pass it on to others at the same rate as before, and that the only thing the vaccine would do is prevent you from dying.  So it was really important you continue to wear your mask and socially distance yourself, even from other people who have been vaccinated.  Later on in the pandemic (second half of 2022) it did keep coming out that you could still get the virus and WOULD get the virus after vaccination, but at the time when I mentioned "Look, it makes some sense that if you aren't symptomatic or don't have the virus you probably won't pass it to others as often" I was viciously attacked and shouted down. 
     
    Update 5/26/2021: an article comes out: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/covid-19-infections-exceedingly-rare-full-vaccination-cdc/story?id=77898840 From the article: "in a real-world setting, vaccinated people get Covid 0.01% at all after getting vaccinated..."  This bothers me, because later on (second half of 2022) the opposite kept coming out.  But at the time, if we were following the science and not emotion, we should have been calmer at this point (5/26/2021) not in sheer panic mode.
     
    When the vaccines first came out, 100% of my co-workers viciously attacked me for discussing any of this, and I watched online anybody who wanted to consider lifting lockdowns or unmasking shouted down as a bad person. Look, what is any other eventual plan?  Lock down forever?  Mask forever?   EDIT UPDATE December 1, 2022: ironically now most of the USA has ended lockdowns, and now China is having protests over their "lockdown Zero Covid" strategy, and most people in the USA are now supportive of the Chinese anti-lockdown protestors.  Where was the support for American anti-lockdown protestors a year earlier?
     
    Update 8/22/2021: a new variant has appeared called "Delta". And the news cycle and claims have started all over again. People are repeating on social media and even mainstream press articles that the vaccines don't prevent you from getting it, so it will pass through to everybody.  But it's not true this time either.  Maybe the vaccinated are 10% more likely to get the "Delta" variant, but that doesn't change the basic concept that if you don't get it (or are mostly asymptomatic) then you are less likely pass it on.  This fact escapes the media right now. 
     
  6. Allowing vaccines to be wasted is worse than worrying about anybody "Jumping the line".  My belief (and I think time will judge me correct on this) is that getting more people vaccinated sooner will result in fewer deaths - so stop worrying about the exact ORDER of vaccination and focus on getting vaccinations into SOMEBODY.  This one is ongoing at the time I write this, but it's very interesting.  The media articles and my friends in California want to make absolutely sure they are not vaccinated "out of order".  So they let vaccinations be thrown away in dumpsters because somebody, somewhere deserves the vaccination more than they deserve it.  Their basic position is this: my friends believe the ORDER of who gets vaccinated is more important than the END GOAL of reaching herd immunity.  The effects of this seem obvious to me - certain people who my friends say "jumped the line" COULD have been immune and not passed the virus on to their Grandma, but by allowing the vaccine to be thrown away (avoid "jumping the line"), they run a chance of catching the disease and will kill their grandmother.  They aren't willing to help with the solution by getting vaccinated.  We're so close to the end, and if they would just GET VACCINATED they could help out.

    The most important debate around this is how far you can drive to get a vaccine in one of the places where they are throwing away vaccines.  In California, they throw them away in Bakersfield right now, or put differently they have openings and nobody will show up to fill all the vaccination openings.  So my recommendation is that people with the ABILITY to travel go get the vaccine in Bakersfield so the "appointment slot" is not wasted.  A lot of Californians say, "no, until it is my turn it is better that Bakersfield have open vaccination appointment slots that are totally unused and the rate at which people are vaccinated is slowed down.

 

 

The Media Went Silent on Anything that Disagreed with the Narrative of Lockdowns "work":
Another recurring theme I watched the entire year was that whenever things were going opposite the narrative of doom, the media went radio silent.

The most spectacular example was Sweden and Florida.  The moment these two places changed from locked down to open, and stopped mandating masks the media LOVED to pile it on with article after article that they were "stupid" and "irrational" and they weren't doing the same thing as everybody else.  However, nothing bad ever occurred.  Sweden and Florida had the same or fewer deaths than the countries and states that locked the economy down beyond any rational level.  So the media went silent.  It was so reliable that if I hadn't seen an article about Sweden or Florida in a while I knew they were doing BETTER than any other region.

I claim this is corrupt, horrible, and the media is abandoning all morals.  If and when you are wrong, or the evidence is showing you might be DESTROYING small businesses, and DESTROYING people's life savings and livelihoods for no reason, it is the media's responsibility to report on it.  It is their moral calling to point out they were mistaken earlier.  It was an amazing silence whenever Sweden or Florida was showing that the lockdowns weren't guaranteed to save you, and the fact that Sweden and Florida provide a "fly in the ointment", a control case that proved lockdowns didn't work as well as everybody had been led to believe.  Even if Sweden and Florida did have worse outcomes, it was worth running the experiment.  Turns out, the experiment turned out really well for Sweden and Florida.  Here is an analysis saying Sweden did not have mask mandates or lockdowns, and really did about the same as everybody else: https://shahar-26393.medium.com/not-a-shred-of-doubt-sweden-was-right-32e6dab1f47a Near the end of the article is this quote, "But the lockdowns and panic were unsubstantiated, prevented nothing, and caused indescribable damage to society. Sweden’s statistics tell us, unequivocally, that in much of the world lives have been lost and livelihoods have been destroyed — in vain."

Individual "journalists" in the media MUST have been aware of this, and yet flatly refused to mention Sweden and Florida as long as their outcome was the same or better than states who didn't lock down.  That is so wrong.  I find it morally bankrupt.  These journalists should be held accountable for being bad at their jobs.  They shirked their responsibility to disclose information to our society.

In the end, when there were vaccinations, the infection rates and deaths DROPPED LIKE A ROCK (at least at first, when they were effective and Covid had not mutated).  The question that is important is: why didn't lockdowns work?  Why were lockdowns ever stopped or halted or allowed to end?  And if lockdowns were less than 1/10th of 1% effective, where were the main stream media reporters, and why don't they talk about that?  Go ahead, mainstream media, we're waiting.  You have economic destruction on your conscious, and you chose to profit instead.  EDIT UPDATE December 1, 2022: China has protests over lockdowns, and ironically the lockdown protestors in China are being cheered on by Americans.  (sigh)

 

The Interesting Change when Chinese People objected to the Narrative of Lockdowns "For Zero Covid":
This is an update in late November, 2022.  While the USA has mostly returned to normal, and people are out and about, China is still locking down hard.  After 100 days of lockdowns, there were protests in China, here are some articles about it:

    NPR: "China's lockdown protests and rising COVID leave Xi Jinping with '2 bad options' " https://www.npr.org/2022/11/29/1139509250/china-lockdown-protests-xi-jinping-zero-covid-policy

    CNN: "China’s lockdown protests: What you need to know: https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/28/china/china-lockdown-protests-covid-explainer-intl-hnk/index.html

     BBC: "China Covid: Protests continue in major cities across the country": https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-63771109.amp

But the most interesting thing, and this is related to the above "Media Went Silent on Anything that Disagreed with the Narrative of Lockdowns "work"" is this sort of Tweet comparison:

....and....

.... and Justin Trudeau ..... From here: https://twitter.com/DefiantLs/status/1597774195479281664

 

The point here is expressing positive emotions towards Chinese people protesting Lockdowns and not calling them "Conspiracy Theorists".  "Conspiracy Theorists" is different than "Lockdown Skeptics who think locking down may not be worth the price our society pays in loss of freedom, destruction of businesses, etc.  A "Conspiracy Theorist" is different, it is a form of name calling, saying the person has wild unsupportable ideas of a mass Conspiracy to do something.  I do not believe there was a conspiracy at any point during Covid, but I am skeptical that lockdowns were worth the damage they caused.

 

 

Believing that People Who have to Work to Eat do not Count
Regarding the pandemic, I am the definition of privileged. I am privileged.  I work from home during the pandemic.  I have a high paying job as a software engineer, and I did not lose one dollar of income due to the pandemic. My co-workers are the same.  Let me make this clear: the fact that my work does not require me to physically interact with people like a person who works in a restaurant or a barber or nail salon was BLIND LUCK.  I didn't know a pandemic was coming, I didn't carefully select my career to be able to work from home.  I got lucky.  My choice to be a high paid software engineer does not make me superior (or better in any way) than people who interact with the public for a living like a doctor, or a server in a restaurant, or somebody who cuts hair for a living.

One of the most repugnant things I've watched is how my co-workers treat people who were not so lucky as us.  Let's say the person owns a hair salon.  They have put their life and savings and heart and soul into this business, and they do a good job and work hard every day.  My co-workers and family treated these people like disposable throw away servants at best, and treated them like they were trash that made bad life choices at worst.  There is zero empathy for them.  "Just shut everything down" say the rich people gleefully from behind their computer monitors at home.  The rich people with nothing to lose then order GROCERIES DELIVERED to their door.  That was a human being that just took those risks for them.  And they threw that human under a bus, and don't even thank them for their sacrifice.

It is EXTREMELY ironic that I get attacked viciously for this next paragraph. Anybody who attacks me lacks even the most basic reading comprehension. Let me be clear, I'm not talking about being upset at not getting food served to me, I'm talking about HUMAN BEINGS and MY FRIENDS losing their life savings.  If you think this is about me eating food then it makes you a HORRIBLE person who can't comprehend basic sentence structure.  So here we go: Every single last one of our favorite family run restaurants in California went out of business forever.   Not shut for the pandemic, shut forever.  You may not know this, but most good restaurants are small businesses - not chains owned by massively wealthy investors.  It turns out you can't require a small business to pay rent for a full year but not allow them to run their business to make money.  They can't survive that.  And these are my friends, and they do a good job in my community.  They were thrown under the bus. And they were JEERED AT as "selfish" for wanting to keep their business alive by a bunch of people who didn't have to sacrifice the same amount.  It showed a very ugly side of my co-workers, and I will never see them in the same way ever again.  Again, this isn't about me getting served food in my place of privilege. I couldn't care less about myself, I WAS FINE.  I'm talking about human beings here, good people, my friends, and you hurt them.

The narrative I would hear from my co-workers and friends and family that all had safe jobs was "it's just a job, they can get another job, you can't get another life".  That is a repulsive statement to say to a small business owner who spent 25 years building up their business with blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice, and hard times.  The small business owner can't just "get another job".  They worked EXTREMELY hard to get to this point, and there isn't enough time left before retirement and death to repeat it.  Only some privileged ass-clown who has never started their own businesses would say something that insensitive and cruel.  A cruel, thoughtless person who never took a risk, never sacrificed, and just shows up and expects the business owner to pay them.  That kind of person thinks jobs just exist, and will always exist, and they can just go get another salary somewhere else if the business they work for fails.  That "business" is a family who mortgaged their home to run that business to provide a fair service to their community.  Those are people that will never recover.  So it better be important and be REALLY worth it that people who were safe (like me) decided that business should be shuttered forever, with no compensation for their sacrifice.

Some people have to go to work face to face with other people in order to buy food to eat.  If they do not work, they cannot buy food, they die of starvation.  They need to pay their rent, they need to work.  They want to pay their children's college tuition, so they need to work.  I understand some people can just work from home (like me), but they can't.  And I understand some people will use the income they make for a 2nd Europe vacation this year, but some people need money to eat.  "It's just a job" implies you can move back in with your parents and they will support you.  Some people didn't get handed all the opportunities these rich, self righteous clowns were handed, some people don't have parents to fall back on.  There was no sympathy extended.

 

The Government Flip-Flops 180 Degrees Several Times:
There were several absolutely amazing flip flops where either the CDC, or the Federal Government, or State Governments were caught changing a recommendation 180 degrees, to the exact opposite of what they said a few days earlier.  One of the oddest things was how most people would defend them BOTH times.  Here are some examples:
 

  1. 3/8/2020 - The CDC and Dr Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are on video record saying "There is no reason to wear a mask, they do not help."  Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-fauci-outdated-video-masks/fact-checkoutdated-video-of-fauci-saying-theres-no-reason-to-be-walking-around-with-a-mask-idUSKBN26T2TR   Then a month later, the CDC and Dr Fauci, the NIAID, and the NIH all recommended "Wear a Cloth Mask".  This page is the internet archive version of the CDC website after recommending cloth masks.  No mention that paper is more effective for masks, which is why doctors don't wear cloth masks.  And some doctors in some situations wear N95 masks that are specifically designed for certain tolerances.
     
  2. 2/26/2021 - After almost a year of saying "wear 1 cloth mask", and after we had SEVERAL working vaccines and the pandemic was only a few months from being perceived by most people as over, Dr Fauci recommended suddenly "Wear Two Cloth Masks", and it became the recommendation. Article: https://www.cnet.com/health/should-you-wear-two-masks-to-prevent-coronavirus/  No mention that paper is more effective than 2 cloth masks.  No mention there is a system of standards for a single mask to do whatever you want it to do called N95 or N98 that doesn't require two random pieces of fabric you found in your hamper.  Nope, just a random recommendation that no matter what quality of each layer, 2 is better than 1.  No focus on results, no focus on what materials to use, zero admission that there are standards that exist and that you could simply buy the correct mask that 1 mask would do whatever you needed it to do.  Instead: "two cloth masks" where each one has no quality control, no testing, and made out of anything.  Two masks become mandatory in California.  Update 5/31/2021: Fauci flip flops again saying "asymptomatic ... level of virus is so low it extremely unlikely... very, very low likelihood that they're going to transmit ( #Covid19 )".  At least one tweet source: https://twitter.com/PhilHollowayEsq/status/1394015746880163842 Update 8/3/2021: And... we flip flopped again!  Masks are now mandatory for vaccinated people in California. https://web.archive.org/web/20210813041301/https://www.smcgov.org/press-release/bay-area-health-officials-urge-immediate-vaccination-and-issue-orders-requiring-use  I can't even fathom what is going on with this flopping around.
     
  3. 7/15/2021 - Asymptomatic transmission / Masks.  At the very start of the pandemic, Dr Fauci stated clearly "Asymptomatic Transmission is Extremely unlikely, asymptomatic people should not wear masks or be afraid of each other.... But the one thing historically people need to realize, ... in all the history of respiratory borne viruses of any type, asymptomatic transmission has never been the driver of outbreaks.  ... an epidemic is not driven by asymptomatic carriers."  You can see Fauci say that in this video at timecode 44 minutes and 02 seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6koHkBCoNQ&t=2642s Then later the CDC and Fauci flip flopped 180 degrees: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html  and https://web.archive.org/web/20200716001735/https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p0714-americans-to-wear-masks.html
     
  4. 6/12/2020 - California hair salons and gyms were given careful guidelines to open.  All their employees came back and trained up on the new procedures.  Salons and gyms were reconfigured to obey the new guidelines.  They operated for TWO DAYS and then the state shut them down again.  This is just spectacular.  ESPECIALLY since hair salons have never been documented to cause even one single death in California from Covid.  Hair salons have worried about hygiene for YEARS, they have strict code about disinfecting scissors and combs.  Article: https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/07/13/santa-clara-county-gyms-salons-forced-to-close-2-days-after-reopening/
     
  5. 9/18/2020 - At one point, the CDC said: "Healthy people with no symptoms should not get tested for Covid. Then 4 days later they reversed that guideline. Article: https://nowthisnews.com/news/cdc-continues-to-flip-flop-on-covid-19-testing-guidelines This was amazing, because at this point the CDC had done this kind of flip flop a few days after they decided something.  It truly felt like the organization was completely disorganized and couldn't figure out how to check with the "narrative police" or whatever organization or person was making them flop after they flipped.
     
  6. 12/18/2020 - Various states decide that their criteria for allocating the vaccine will be by an exact ordered list of which people "deserve" it the most.  For example, hospital staff got it first, they are better people than everybody else (according to various government bodies).  What did that mean?  That means work from home hospital administrators were asked "who should get the vaccine first", and the work from home hospital administrators decided THEY should get the vaccine first, before doctors that worked facing patients.  Stanford Hospital Administrators had to apologize over this AFTER THEY WERE OUTTED, but none were fired, and none of them "gave the vaccine back", they kept it in their bodies, and got the 2nd shot on schedule, and CONTINUED TO WORK FROM HOME.  Here is one article: https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Stanford-COVID-vaccine-residents-protest-15814131.php

    Ironically, after the frontline patient facing doctors got the vaccine, they continued to vaccinate all the administrators BEFORE GROCERY STORE WORKERS.  So a 29 year old Stanford Hospital administrator that works from home STILL "deserves" the vaccine more than a 29 year old grocery store worker who deals directly with the public, and a 23 year old nurse "deserves" it more than a 29 year old grocery store worker who deals directly with the public (more public in a less controlled situation) also according to these jackasses.  I bring this up because it shows the dangers of allowing a few individuals to decide priorities and policy - you can guarantee corruption and graft and selfishness, it's like a law of physics at this point. Power corrupts, anybody not paying attention to that rule will also not follow the corollary: absolute power corrupts absolutely.
     
    Ok, next the government gave it out to the oldest members of our society.  It is definitely more plausible than stay at home medical workers, but still suspicious because we FINALLY had figured out older people were at risk and they were being protected at this point, and the grocery delivery people were just out there in the field taking one for the team.

    After a while came the "flip flop".  Alaska just gave up on this bogus system that was slowing down vaccinations and opened it wide open to anybody.  Several states followed, and by 4/1/2021 there were maybe 6 or 7 states who had opened it wide open in direct flip flop with their earlier claims of "a precisely ordered list".  The minute before they flip flopped 180 degrees the term was "jumping the line" if you signed up earlier due to your pre-existing condition that your particular state did or did not take into account.  The minute AFTER the state flip flopped it wasn't "jumping the line".  Each time (1 minute before the flip flop, and 1 minute after the flip flop) people defended the government as "morally correct".  I reject this as intellectually bankrupt.  No thinking individual can support the idea that if you lived in Texas you could get vaccinated at age 50 (like me) but if you lived in California you could not.  Same situation, two states, two different criterias - you can't have both make any moral sense.
     
  7. The World Health Organization (WHO) flip flopped on whether Herd Immunity can come from getting the disease.  It STARTED as WELL KNOWN for 100 years prior to this pandemic that getting a disease was the way we always got herd immunity before vaccines.  To be clear, a safe vaccine is better, but if you don't have a vaccine - infection is the only remaining choice.  Then it became "Herd Immunity is ONLY by Vaccinations, Infection is not valid".  Then it flipped back to the original.  Source: https://summit.news/2020/12/23/who-changes-definition-of-herd-immunity-to-eliminate-pre-covid-consensus/


    Spectacularly, the narrative then flip flopped back later: https://www.webmd.com/vaccines/covid-19-vaccine/news/20210317/can-vaccination-and-infection-rates-add-up-to-reach-covid-herd-immunity "Presumed ‘herd immunity’ is ‘the combined value of infections + vaccinations as % population > 60%”.
     
  8. 5/12/2021 - The CDC flip flopped on "after you are fully vaccinated, you should wear two masks."  To anybody paying attention to statistics, after you are vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine you literally can no longer die from Covid-19 in 2021, and your chances of transmitting it are alarmingly close to zero.  After vaccination, people under 20 years old should be more scared of being attacked by sharks in their sleep than dying of Covid-19 (go ahead, google the statistics, I'll wait).  The vaccines were thought at this point to be ridiculously great, which was good news.  (Update December 2022: it turns out the vaccines weren't so bullet-proof as we thought at the time, but still, given then information and messaging at the time I'll stand by this paragraph still.)  But the CDC went with the the utter anti-science insanity (at first) saying after getting vaccinated you should wear two masks.  There was no justification for this, it was not based in any science, or any stretch of science. With mounting pressure from let's say EVERYBODY WITH TWO BRAIN CELLS, the CDC reversed it's position.  It utterly flip flopped with zero new information to say people who have been vaccinated no longer should wear masks indoors or outdoors: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/13/cdc-says-fully-vaccinated-people-dont-need-to-wear-face-masks-indoors-or-outdoors-in-most-settings.html
     
    A note on a side flip flop of Dr Anthony Fauci: On March 18, 2021 Senator Rand Paul confronted Dr. Fauci and said "isn't wearing a mask when you are vaccinated just theater?"  Fauci replied, "No, it's not -- here we go again with the theater.  Let's get down to the facts.  ...for the record masks are not theater."  Fauci really doubled down on this, and talked about "variants". Link to one article on it: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/rand-paul-anthony-fauci-spar-again-masks-theater  But he was dead wrong, and had to eventually stop wearing a mask and he admitted later he was totally protected by the vaccine and masks don't make any sense.  All the studies showed the same thing, that vaccination prevents infection or at least death at a much larger rate than masks on asymptomatic people - it's ridiculous to claim otherwise.  An article about how Fauci admits Rand Paul was correct all along: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/fauci-admits-rand-paul-was-right-about-him From that article: "There was no scientific need for Fauci to wear a mask after being fully vaccinated; it was just for show. That makes Fauci one of the most anti-science people in the room."

    Update 8/3/2021 - the CDC flip flopped again (sigh).  They changed BACK to say vaccinated people should wear masks indoors: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/why-the-cdc-recommends-wearing-masks-indoors-even-if-youve-been-fully-vaccinated-against-covid-19  California has regions that are now mandating masks for vaccinated people indoors.including Los Angeles and the counties surrounding San Francisco.

    Update 2/7/2022 - this flip flopping event needs a name, like "The Great Unmasking".  A poll came out around January 31st, 2022 by Monmouth University here: https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/reports/monmouthpoll_us_013122/ and in that poll it was revealed that an astounding 70% of Americans felt it was time to accept that we lost against Covid - it would be here forever, there was no way to wipe it out, it was "endemic" like the flu which we have lived with for hundreds of years.  Of course most scientists and doctors and engineers (like Mechanical and Electrical engineers who can think rationally) knew this two years earlier, but now the public finally agrees.  Mid-term elections are coming up at this point, and this poll showed mandating masks was a losing political stance.  So on almost the same day of around February 10th - 15th, 2022 - many Democrat majority states and counties coordinated quietly to all drop mask mandates at the same time.  Here is one article: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/mask-mandate-map-february-2022-n1289093 It was amazing.  And when it picked up steam, even more jumped on the bandwagon.  Mask mandates dropped like flies.  But see below...

    2/8/2022 -But there was one problem for the group all flip flopping against masks this time.  The CDC said, "wait up, NOTHING IN THE SCIENCE HAS CHANGED, Here is an article from 2/8/2022 but you can find twenty others like this: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/02/08/covid-omicron-variant-live-updates/ This is the main quote:
           "‘Now is not the moment’ to drop mask rules, CDC director says as states end mandates."

    2/25/2022 - The CDC spectacularly flip flops one week later (so obviously pure politics) and declares that the suddenly "THE SCIENCE HAS CHANGED", and says unmasking is the best thing for science.  Talk about embarrassing.  I really feel that I'm one of the only people that notices when the CDC does a flip flop anymore.  I'm one of the only people that noticed the CDC has become useless and can no longer be trusted because of this political flip flopping every other week.  Science doesn't change like that, in lock step with political polls.  That's not how it works.  And if an organization is this profoundly wrong (one of the two statements they made in the same 7 day period: masks should be required or masks should not be required) then you have to stop trusting any of their information if half of it is the diametric opposite of "correct info".  You would get more accurate information by flipping a coin!!  Here is one article about this particular flip-flop: https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/25/health/cdc-covid-metrics-mask-guidance/index.html You can find 10 others if you look.

     
  9. The World Health Organization (WHO) flip flopped on whether or not Covid is airborne or not.  On the left is a screenshot of this tweet.  Then under pressure, they flip flopped 180 degrees saying Covid was primarily airborne with this release.  See below for screenshots.  By April of 2021, the CDC and WHO started saying it almost never spreads from surfaces.  (sigh)

     
     
  10. More:  https://www.reddit.com/r/LockdownCriticalLeft/comments/mj7f1j/make_up_your_damn_mind/
     
  11. This next sequence of flipping and flopping was SPECTACULAR.  It goes like this:
     
    - California Newsom was a holdout, one of the last states to cling to the mask mandate, up until Newsom faces a recall election for dictating authoritarian mandates.
     
    - 5/11/2021 - Faced with a recall election, Newsom announces a FUTURE DATE (right before the recall election) of 6/15/2021 where the California mask mandate will drop.  Here is a defeated Newsom talking about dropping the mandate: https://twitter.com/Elex_Michaelson/status/1392339828901961728 And here is one article about it: https://deadline.com/2021/05/capacity-limits-california-businesses-end-on-june-15-1234754400/  
     
    - 5/12/2021 - Newsom flip flops by SOFTENING earlier remarks: https://web.archive.org/web/20210513230032/https://www.sfchronicle.com/health/article/California-likely-to-end-most-mask-requirements-16170984.php and says mask mandates will probably stay for most things. 

    - 5/13/2021 - In absolutely SPECTACULAR TIMING the CDC dropped a bombshell finally saying "masks don't make any sense for fully vaccinated people, they can return to life as normal, no mask, no distancing".  Here is one article: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/cdc-plans-drop-mask-requirements-fully-vaccinated-people-n1267249 
     
    - 5/13/2021 - In response to the above CDC bombshell, Newsom is just caught like a deer in the headlights and says "We'll review those CDC guidelines."  His office tweet here sets off an EPIC twitter thread with half the people asking to end it now (waiting makes no sense) and half begging Newsom to keep the mask mandate to save the human race from extinction: https://twitter.com/CAgovernor/status/1393045476971192322  some quotes are found below:
     
    Original Tweet text: "With @CAPublicHealth, we are reviewing the new CDC guidance on masking."

    "Governor Newsom, don't follow the CDC guidance on this!! We need to wear masks to protect ourselves."

    "So for months we have been listening to "follow the science and data," yet now you don't want to follow the science and data. Wear a mask if you want and stop trying to control people who understand the science."

    "May I humbly suggest that we...
    Follow the science...
    Listen to the experts...
    Trust the government professionals...
    And remove all restrictions in the state of California."

    "As a fully vaccinated Californian, I’m not ready to go maskless in public yet. If I enter a public building I’m wearing a mask."

    "Good for you. I’m ready to take off my mask."

    "Unmask!! Follow the CDC guidelines and science!"

    "The CDC announcement opens the floodgates. Just forego the theater and rescind the mask mandate now."

    "Florida Texas and Georgia have been doing that for months. So what was that you were saying?"

    "Why not today, @GavinNewsom? The vaccinated citizens should be exempt from all mask mandates immediately. We shouldn’t have to wait another month. This is another reason why the recall is taking place."

    - 6/27/2021 - Ok, so California had no masks indoors for vaccinated people for about a month.  Then it REVERSED THIS DECISION and masks were mandated indoors.  On this date (6/27/2021) the CDC also reversed it's recommendation and said vaccinated people should wear masks indoors.

    - 2/15/2021 -  The California state mask mandate expires and is not renewed by California Governor Newsom under ENORMOUS pressure, and recent polls saying 70% of Americans think Covid is "endemic, get over it": One article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthart/2022/01/27/majority-of-americans-think-covid-19-is-here-to-stay-poll-finds/?sh=7322c7e424c3  What happens next is 100% of San Francisco Bay Area counties (with one glaring exception of Sara Cody and Santa Clara County) get rid of indoor mask mandates this day, and something like 9 US states do the same all at once.  It's a spectacular flip flop.  Remember, nothing is different about cases - there are literally three times as many daily cases of Covid at this point as there were when mask mandates were put in place.  It's a change in narrative.  It's a change in "politics", and it's happening right at this moment with massive buy in from the public.  Nobody is admitting they were wrong all along, but they are changing EVERYTHING. 

    - 2/27/2021 - The CDC reverses it's recommendation for masks on school children.  It emphasizes that children face a very low risk from COVID-19, read one article here: https://reason.com/2022/02/28/the-cdcs-explanation-for-its-reversal-on-school-mask-mandates-is-transparently-dishonest/ Now the thing that is SO FRUSTRATING is that 100% of all thinking people knew this all along.  And remember, at this point Covid infections are three times as high as they ever were when masks were recommended for school children.  This is so obvious a viral video was made about "We don't about Covid" (a parody of "We Don't Talk About Bruno"): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf-8rEK63eg

    - 3/1/2021 - IMPORTANT TIMELINE NOTE: BrianW heard on NPR today while driving that "cloth masks and paper masks don't block Covid.  Furthermore N95 masks protect the wearer but only if fitted properly with no gaps which is very hard for most people to do (compared with doctors who get fitted properly), which is why we're lifting the mask mandates".  Now remember, all scientists knew cloth masks weren't effective all along (and so did BrianW because he read the technical papers).  This is a political change.  This is a narrative change at this moment.  BrianW always advocated for "N95 or nothing", and was shouted down and called a heretic for two years.  But now, at this moment, suddenly it is Ok, now suddenly it is "science".  Edit Update Dec 1, 2022: some thoughtful new careful studies are showing N95 doesn't even work in any statistical fashion to prevent covid (sigh): https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M22-1966 Quote from study: "RT-PCR–confirmed COVID-19 occurred in 52 of 497 (10.46%) participants in the medical mask group versus 47 of 507 (9.27%) in the N95 respirator group" - I take that as N95 is about 1% better than paper masks, which don't seem to do anything at all.

    - 3/2/2021 - Since it is so embarrassing to be so ridiculously out of step with the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area counties, Sara Cody (Santa Clara Health Director) declares the science has changed and Santa Clara lifts their mask mandate: https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/santa-clara-county-may-lift-indoor-mask-mandate-as-early-as-this-week/2825601/   Cases are still at basically an all time high, but now it's no longer important.

    -- So to recap a timeline so far:

     
  12. Probably the largest flip flop is this: prior to 2018 the CDC had carefully thought out pandemic guidelines thought through CALMLY and shown here: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/pdf/community_mitigation-sm.pdf This article talks about those guidelines: https://hangtownreasoning.substack.com/p/no-covid-19-is-not-americas-deadliest and produces this graph (click on the graph to see the proper larger version):
     

     From the article: "...in the naïve era of 2007, the CDC published Pre-Pandemic Planning Guidance which categorized pandemics and gave guidance for how to best to handle them. In that guidance is graded pandemics of a scale of 1 to 5 based on projected deaths and Infection Fatality Rate. (the charts may say Case Fatality Rate, but by running the numbers it becomes clear they mean IFR not CFR) By these measures 1918 was a true Cat 5, whereas mid-century pandemics in 1957 and 68 were Cat 2’s. The 2009 Swine Flu would have been just a Cat 1. The CDC estimates that Covid-19 has an IRF of around 0.3% to 0.5% which would put it on the upper end of Cat 2, but since we’ve been counting deaths for going on 2 years now the death count now has it sitting squarely in Cat 3 territory. I choose to call a Cat 2/3 or in other words Mild to Moderate…

    But media figures like Goldberg just can’t comprehend this." 
     
    So the largest flip flop of all is the CDC flip flopped on their own guidance that they CAREFULLY CREATED to avoid doing so under time pressure and panic, and the flip flopped to a brand new definition of "just 1 death from Covid is a pandemic, everybody freak out and self destruct the economy". 
     
  13. This is a politically motivated, calculated flip-flop as follows.  On 2/24/2022, a Democrat polling firm noticed that Americans were finally getting tired of destroying the economy and attempting to go to "COVID-ZERO" (where Covid is wiped out, which was never possible from the beginning).  This polling firm decided for the entire Democratic Party to flip flop and declare the pandemic "over", despite literally nothing else changing.  Here is the Tweet that broke the story: https://twitter.com/hamill_law/status/1497205184790872065 (screenshot here in case that is ever taken down).  Click here for screenshot of the memo itself.
     
  14. on Friday, 2/25/2022, the CDC flip flopped on whether 90% of the United States was "High-Risk Red" to less than 30% by CHANGING THE FORMULA.  https://twitter.com/covid_clarity/status/1498360349975842821 Screenshot here.

 

Politician Hypocrisy: "Rules for Thee, but not for Me"
There were several absolutely STUNNING examples of politicians getting caught doing exactly the opposite of what they mandated for others.  None of them were ever held properly accountable. It goes to a pattern that the people passing these arbitrary restrictions without passing any voter approved laws didn't believe in what they were saying.  Or at very least it makes them HORRIBLE and SELFISH human beings - and you start questioning should people this terrible be given ultimate power to decide every aspect of who can gather, who can travel, who can get a haircut. Here are some I can remember:

  1. 5/5/2020 - UK Professor Neil Ferguson creates the scientific model that results in the economic shutdown of England, and then ignores the shutdown, and while infected with Covid-19 uses public transportation to travel to sleep with his mistress.  Article: https://www.insider.com/neil-ferguson-resigns-broke-lockdown-to-see-married-lover-2020-5

    Summary: Neil Ferguson promoted his scientific model and got all of England economically shut down. On March 17 he presented all of his findings yet again at a news conference at Downing Street.  The next day he felt sick with Covid-19, then at the height of being infectious he ignored the shutdowns he recommended, ignored his own model, and while infected with Covid-19 used public transportation, exposed countless other people, to go visit his mistress who was married.
     
  2. 9/2/2020 - Nancy Pelosi mandates nobody else is allowed to get a haircut, then gets a haircut herself, and doesn't wear a mask.  Article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/09/02/pelosi-hair-salon-california-coronavirus/

    Summary: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat, California) shut down all hair salons.  Then she got a haircut in a hair salon.  She was caught and exposed with security camera footage.  Then Pelosi accused to the owner of "setting her up" which turned out to be absolutely false.  Pelosi knew EXACTLY what she was doing, asked for a haircut, didn't wear a mask.
     
  3. 11/18/2020 - Governor Gavin Newsom economically shut down all indoor dining in California.  Then dined indoors soon after at a social event.  Article: https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article247269194.html
     
    Summary: The Governor of California Gavin Newsom (Democrat, California) mandated with great moral authority nobody should be allowed to eat inside at a restaurant anywhere in California.  Newsom then promptly ate at one of the most expensive restaurants in California indoors.  And just for entertainment, no good explanation.
     
  4. 12/2/2021 - Austin Texas City Mayor Steve Adler (Democrat, California) mandated that no Austin residents should travel or gather with others, then the very next day gathered with others and boarded a private airplane to travel.  Article: https://www.statesman.com/story/news/coronavirus/2020/12/02/austin-mayor-stressed-residents-lsquoneed-to-stay-homersquo-he-was-vacationing-in-cabo-at-time/115087704/

    Summary: Mayor Steve Adler mandated everybody to stay at home and not travel, then the very next day climbed aboard a private plane with a crowd of friends to go have a celebration and vacation in Cabo - international travel.  It gets even better.  He then (sitting in Cabo) addressed Austin residents and told them to "stay put" by video conference from Cabo.  He never mentioned he wasn't in Austin at the time.  He was caught yet there were no consequences.
     
  5. 2/19/2021 - Ted Cruz (United States Senator, Republican, Texas) - Ted Cruz said people should not travel.  The next day he flew to Cancun while his state was in crisis.  Article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/18/politics/ted-cruz-cancun-texas-disaster-electricity-power-water/index.html
     
  6. 4/19/2021 - Gretchen Whitmer (Governor of Michigan) - Gretchen Whitmer urged the people of Michigan not to travel on spring break.  Then she travelled to Florida during spring break. She spun this trip to Florida during spring break as "visit her sick father", which is a repulsive and vile cop out and makes it worse.  She had said earlier "visiting people is how you spread Covid", and the fact that she so readily exposed her own father who is so frail and sick to her dangerous behavior shows she doesn't think any of the rules or recommendations or justifications she passed apply to her.  Article: https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2021/04/19/whitmer-traveled-out-of-state-to-visit-sick-father-amid-pandemicmic In that article it mentions two of her most important staff members travelled on vacation a couple weeks after they told everybody ELSE not to travel on vacation.
     
  7. 5/23/2021 - Governor Gretchen Whitmer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gretchen_Whitmer) of the state of Michigan ordered all people to avoid bars.  Then she went to a bar.  One article here:  https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2021/05/23/whitmer-apologizes-after-photo-shows-her-bar-violating-own-order/5234477001/ Big or small states, 100% of the governors decided to viciously shut down other people's businesses, then ignore the rules themselves.  It's like some sort of perverse rule: all politicians make rules for others, then don't TRULY believe in the rules enough to follow them themselves.
     
  8. 9/16/2021 - Mayor London Breed issues order that all people must wear masks at all times even if vaccinated, then proceeds to dance and party without a mask on.  One article here: https://abc7news.com/mayor-london-breed-san-francisco-tenderloin-club-sf/11026427/ and https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2021/09/18/san-francisco-mayor-london-breed-defends-criticism-after-video-dancing-maskless-night-club/
     

The Return to Normal Attitudes Curve: Different Reactions
This is originally written 4/20/2022.  I just wanted to write down what is happening around me at this time, because it is an interesting moment that feels like a shift is occurring.

First of all, the mask mandate only exists in airports and airlines leading up to 4/19/2022. In every other aspect of life there are no masks, but when you walk into an airport building, they are required.  Obviously this is silly.  So the airlines wrote an open letter asking that the mask mandate be lifted: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/23/business/airlines-mask-mandate.html Then the senate passed a bipartisan law saying lift the mask mandates on airplanes.  Then President Biden inexplicably vetoed it, and extended the masks in airport for "2 more weeks" but was utterly closed mouth as to why.  People kept wondering, and there was conjecture, but an administration was taking actions against the will of all the people and would not explain themselves.  Then a judge in Florida overturned the extension on April 18th saying it wasn't lawful: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/florida-court-overturns-cdc-travel-mask-mandate-unlawful-rcna24853 and that day, half way through flights, pilots took off masks and so did the passengers and there was cheering: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/19/us/mask-mandate-flights.html And 100% of all airlines dropped the mask requirement instantly: https://www.cnet.com/health/mask-mandate-on-airplanes-lifted-heres-the-latest/

So at this moment the world is returning to final normal, the VAST majority of people are entirely over hiding at home and wearing masks, everybody admits Covid is "endemic" now, with us forever, and we just have to get on with life the best we can.  Our Backblaze office is officially re-opening for good in 18 more days on May 12th, 2022.  And Backblaze is attending the NAB conference (National Association of Broadcasters which is in Las Vegas and 100,000 people attend each year) in full force.  And yet this is exchanged over internal Slack:

So to sum this up, about 100,000 people will go to NAB including these Backblaze employees, and very few will wear masks on the airplanes to go there, and they aren't afraid of 100,000 people coming in from all over the world, the Backblaze office is reopening with 300 people eating lunch every day together, but the 5 - 10 people from Backblaze don't want to have dinner together once in Las Vegas because some of them are still afraid of catching Covid. 

I'm not pointing this out to ridicule or shame anybody.  These feelings are legitimate and real.  People are terrified of dying and long term effects of Covid more than 2 years after this all started.

The interesting part to me, just stepping back, is how it seems to always play out, just at different times.  In Austin Texas there was 100% mask compliance when there was no vaccine, but after the vaccine came out the mask mandate was lifted on March 23, 2021 then it was relatively quickly (really about 1 or 2 weeks) that the public when to 90% unmasked but still cautious.  Then about 3 months later after the masks went away, I really noticed people were "hugging hello" and "hugging goodbye" with people they would have done the same with before the time of Covid.  Even meeting people for the first time (if introduced by a friend) they might hug.  I don't know if this is cause and effect for sure, but I suspect the masks keep the "threat" in the forefront of thought, and when the world looks more normal this just melts away and people let it go and return to normal.

Now in California where Backblaze was based, the indoor mask mandate wasn't lifted until February 15, 2022.  And there at this moment (April 20, 2022) people are still going through the identical curve seen in Austin a year earlier.  When the masks go away, people start acting with less fear pretty quickly.

I do also suspect some people have been mentally affected so much by the fearful messaging and media pressure that they might never truly recover.  There are hard-core pro-mask-forever people loudly proclaiming they will wear masks forever.  Most other people just answer "ok, that was always legal, you do you".  But the point is at this moment (April 20, 2022) it feels like a large society attitude shift has occurred and it's clear which side "the hive mind" has landed on - that wearing masks forever isn't the best solution and accepting the resulting deaths that will occur is actually a valid tradeoff.  For the first time in 2 years, I think we're finally through the "too soon" phase where the emotion over-rode rational decision making.

Update 11/1/2022 - there are some articles coming out  pleading for "Amnesty" for everything that happened during the pandemic.  Here is one: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/10/covid-response-forgiveness/671879/ In the first line, it says, "We need to forgive one another for what we did and said when we were in the dark about COVID."  Basically the pro-lock-down people who called other people "plague rats" want everybody to forget how one side became VERY authoritarian. That "side" of the debate is willing to eliminate free speech, fire people who wanted autonomy over their own bodies, and destroy the economy.  My issue with this is there will be pandemics in the future, and other pressures, and we should put into law restrictions on government power so these mistakes are not repeated.  "Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it."

Also on 11/1/2022 - a note on authoritarianism and how people fell in line with authoritarian mandates later found to be unlawful and unconstitutional: the above paragraph reminds me of two famous experiments.  In the "Milgram Experiment" at Yale University (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment) one subject was told (by an authority figure) to shock another subject with greater and greater amounts of electricity.  They were even told it might be lethal. But the person administrating the shocks was told by an "authority figure" wearing a white lab coat to continue, so a truly alarming number of subjects administered lethal doses of electricity to other innocent people they knew were innocent.  This was ground breaking research, very important.  And we forgot about it during the panic over Covid.  Another famous study is the "Stanford Prison Experiment" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment) in 1971 in a two week simulation of a prison, subjects were randomly assigned to be "guards" or "inmates" and the guards abused the inmates. The study was terminated after 6 days due to concerns of the researchers on how badly the abuse was progressing.  The summary of these two studies is this: when put in a position of power, or told by somebody in a position of authority, many people are evil and do bad things.  This is why I feel we need certain constitutional protections over body autonomy, freedom of speech, etc.  This is to guard against times of heightened emotion when all these evil people default to doing bad things like ruining people's lives and controlling other people because they were told to, or simply because they can.  During Covid the guard rails were dropped, the government just did bad things like closing (and destroying forever) small family run businesses.  The government told people who they were allowed to gather with, including telling churches they could not worship together.  I'm an atheist, but when I mentioned that didn't sound like a good idea at the time nobody would listen to me.  And now as talk of "Amnesty" is being discussed, I wonder if anybody thinks the government over-stepped and tramped people's rights at all?  Probably not.

 

The Question that became Political: Do Cloth Masks Help Slow the Spread?
For the record up front: I think "masks work to reduce infections" if used properly and made out of the correct materials.  The main question I have is how effective they are in the real world, with cloth masks made out of inferior materials, worn improperly, and rarely washed (do they slow the spread 1% or 20% or 50% or 99.9%)?  A secondary question is what works better: cloth or paper surgical masks, or N95 masks?  And it irks me that by raising this question (which I think is legitimate) that I am labeled "anti-mask".  This became political, and some sort of a dog whistle for conservatives or something like that. 

I have no problem with wearing a mask, and I did so throughout the pandemic.  People didn't have to ask me to put it on, or "pull it up", I did it for several reasons including:

  1. It probably helps 1%.  So what the heck, might as well.
     
  2. I don't want to cause any problems, or break social norms, or cause a scene, and I'm not going to change anybody's mind and it isn't that tough to wear a mask.
     
  3. In my opinion, a store has TOTAL control over what is done inside that store.  If they say "No shirt, no shoes: no service" then I either wear a shirt and shoes or I don't go in.  Period.  Same with masks, so if a private store like Safeway in California (or H.E.B. in Texas) has a sign on the front that says "Masks Required Inside" then I'm wearing a mask.  This is basic respect of their private property, and I do *NOT* agree with anybody who wants to fight them or make a scene - it's their store, their property, it is up to them what the requirements are.  I feel this is an absolute.  If they say all customers must hop on their left foot, then I'll either hop on my left foot or not shop there.  I'm never going to argue with the shopkeeper.  It's their domain, their rules.

Just one quick note on masks related to virus vs bacteria...  One thing that seems to be totally lost on most people is that when they see doctors wearing paper (not cloth) surgical masks, it is usually to stop bacteria (which is large) from getting expelled from their lungs, or to stop bacteria from entering their lungs.  Paper masks and cloth masks especially have never been about blocking viruses, which are smaller than bacteria.  Covid is a virus.  An analogy I have seen used is shooting a BB gun at a chain link fence.  Sure, some of the BBs bounce off the wires, but most go through.

Ok, with all that said, back to the critical question: how effective are masks and which types?  As far as I can tell, cloth masks are about 1% effective at slowing the spread of Covid-19, and paper surgical masks are a little better, I don't know the number because nobody will tell me, but maybe 5%?  And the N95 masks are a little better when worn by professionals and thrown out every 30 minutes or thrown out immediately if touched by either bare hand.  Most effective is probably a hazmat suit. 

Edit 8/23/2021: a study came out today with some effectiveness numbers agreeing with my chart below: https://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/5.0057100 The study came to the conclusion that cloth masks block 10% of Covid blown through it, paper surgical masks blocked 12%, and N95 is up at blocking 60%.  I want to point out this doesn't translate to 10% fewer Covid transmissions for cloth masks, it might block more than 10% of Covid transmissions, or it might blow less than 10% of Covid transmissions, but at least the study backs the concept that these are "different levels" of protection and all masks are not created equal.  (End of Edit.)

Edit 1/11/2022: a new article came out today saying N95 is 75 times more effective than paper masks (I wonder how it compares to cloth?).  Original here: : https://www.axios.com/n95-mask-protection-covid-958039c9-07f1-45a1-81e7-b7436707fee5.html Preserved as screenshot here for longevity (click here).

Edit 2/21/2022: a new study WIDELY QUOTED from the CDC came out recently with a very interesting graphic saying cloth masks prevented Covid 56% of the time with a small asterisk.  The asterisk said, "Not statistically significant."  That's a wild result to publish widely in the name of science in a clever graphic! I note it here because of the my observation that "masks became political, not science" (the title of this section of my thoughts).  Here is the study: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7106e1.htmhtm titled "Effectiveness of Face Mask or Respirator Use in Indoor Public Settings for Prevention of SARS-CoV-2 Infection — California, February–December 2021".  A criticism is written up here: https://ianmsc.substack.com/p/the-cdcs-latest-study-on-masks-is by a person very critical of masks by the name of Ian Miller: https://ianmsc.substack.com/

- 2/15/2022 - The California state mask mandate expires and is not renewed by California Governor Newsom under ENORMOUS pressure, and recent polls saying 70% of Americans think Covid is "endemic, get over it": One article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthart/2022/01/27/majority-of-americans-think-covid-19-is-here-to-stay-poll-finds/?sh=7322c7e424c3 What happens next is 100% of San Francisco Bay Area counties (with one glaring exception of Sara Cody and Santa Clara County) get rid of indoor mask mandates this day, and something like 9 US states do the same all at once. It's a spectacular flip flop. Remember, nothing is different about cases - there are literally three times as many daily cases of Covid at this point as there were when mask mandates were put in place. It's a change in narrative. It's a change in "politics", and it's happening right at this moment with massive buy in from the public. Nobody is admitting they were wrong all along, but they are changing EVERYTHING.

- 3/1/2022 - IMPORTANT TIMELINE NOTE: BrianW heard on NPR today while driving that "cloth masks and paper masks don't block Covid very well. Furthermore N95 masks protect the wearer but only if fitted properly with no gaps which is very hard for most people to do (compared with doctors who get fitted properly), which is why we're lifting the mask mandates". Now remember, all scientists knew cloth masks weren't effective all along (and so did BrianW because he read the technical papers, plus look at how I wrote this page before 3/1/2021). This is a political change. This is a narrative change at this moment. BrianW always advocated for "N95 or nothing", and was shouted down and called a heretic for two years. But now, at this moment, suddenly it is Ok, now suddenly it is "science".   Edit 3/3/2022 - it came out that this is all related to the poll above on 2/15/2022 and an internal memo sent to various Democratic leaders.  But my favorite is the CDC totally redefined the formulas to make all the graphs appears as if Covid is now over talked about here: https://www.capitalismmagazine.com/2022/02/the-cdc-discovers-actual-public-health-just-in-time-for-the-elections/ and relates to this graphic from the CDC changing (for no reason).

- Update 4/9/2022 - I read an article today that kind of sums up my mood/feelings at this moment.  The author said they were not "anti-mask" (I feel the same, I'm not anti-mask at all) but that the drawbacks of cloth masks (however small) outweigh their benefits.  Yesterday I saw a group of 8 - 10 people all in the age range of 20 - 25 using American Sign Language to talk with each other at a table in a local "Shake Shack" (it's a burger restaurant).  They were clearly a social group of deaf people, and they were smiling and using ASL at a furious pace.  When one of them approached the counter to pick up their food, a masked person behind the register asked a question verbally I couldn't quite make out because I was too far away, maybe something like "Do you want ketchup?"  The deaf person could not read their lips due to the mask, and didn't even know a question was asked.  So the idea that wearing masks is completely harmless, that there are no victims is just clearly wrong, the only question is what are the costs and benefits.  This article has an interesting take on that: https://www.healthing.ca/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus/masks/opinion-covid-unmasking-social-duty (Internet Archive Link if that article disappears: https://web.archive.org/web/20220408134647/https://www.healthing.ca/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus/masks/opinion-covid-unmasking-social-duty).  The author feels it is their social duty to go "bare-faced" sometimes in public.


So to recap in order of effectiveness:
 

From left to right, the cloth mask isn't very effective, the paper mask is better, the N95 worn by a professional with training and eye protection is getting better, and a Hazmat suit will keep you safe.

Now, what did the research show BEFORE 2019, before it got political?  Studies have been done for more than 100 years since the Spanish Flu on using public masking to prevent viral spread, and there is really very little evidence to show they work very well IN THE REAL WORLD (they of course block some particles in the air when you sneeze at them). This was "well established" in the scientific community before it became political.  It's very odd the scientific community didn't stand up for science harder, but like me, they just kept their head down and didn't want to cause trouble.

Ok, so we all WANTED face masks to work, and they make sense, right?  Look at the picture below of a man exhaling smoke through a paper face mask:


The problem here is that when you exhale, in fact your breath does go through the mask, and some goes out the sides.  And some of that breathe has Covid-19 virus in it.  It sucks, but all of the evidence shows cloth face masks are not 100% effective.  I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area during part of the pandemic, and mask compliance was basically 100% - nobody made a scene, everybody wore masks in food stores.  But the virus still infected people.  Now something amazing happened when people got vaccinated which was about 95% effective at stopping infection - the infection and death rates dropped like a rock through the floor.  So to me, the evidence shows that masks are NOT as effective as the vaccine.  In fact, not even close.

More evidence that masks aren't significantly (like even 20%) effective at blocking transmission: if you look at when mask mandates were passed, there doesn't seem to be any clear "trend line change" of infection rates dropping after mask mandates were passed.  Take a look at these charts from https://twitter.com/yinonw/status/1321177359601393664 :

From a graph of Los Angeles county and mask mandates:

If mask mandates were SUPER effective, there would be trend line changes that were "evident" on these charts, right?

So what is going on?  Why if studies in a laboratory show if you sneeze on a mask it blocks part of the transmission (like 50% let's say for the sake of argument) then why doesn't a mask mandate drop infections by 50% in society?  Well, there is this really interesting concept/debate that has been studied and debated for 50 years regarding seat belts in cars. Seat belts work REALLY WELL in laboratories, but for some reason highway deaths don't drop precipitously when you mandate seat belt use.  The explanation is this: in the real world, people feel safer when they have seat belt on, so they drive more recklessly which eats up all the safety the seat belt adds.  HILARIOUSLY this 50 year old debate came up with a concept of something called a "Tullock Spike".  Gordon Tullock did a thought experiment where he said, "If we wanted people to drive more carefully, we would mount a spike on the steering column of all cars so if you ever got in an accident you would die."  Anyway, applied to mask mandates in the Covid world brought this 50 year old debate into 2021.  When people FELT SAFER because everybody was wearing masks, they proceeded to go out and do more things, interact with more people (wearing masks), and did not socially distance enough.  They "ate up" all the extra safety margin the masks would provide if you didn't change any other variable but wore a mask.

The picture below is political and a meme, and it is PROBABLY WRONG as to the masks used for each application.  But I think it makes an interesting point about how we REALLY DO HAVE 100 years of mask technology used in highly hazardous situations.  And we're ignoring all of that technology and knowledge and science and saying things like "two home made cloth masks I made out of cheesecloth are great, they probably block 50% of infections":

 

Here are some articles published about the effectiveness of face masks "in the real world" (taking into account how people actually used masks):

https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/masking-lack-of-evidence-with-politics/ - A July 2020 commentary from "The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine" saying masks got political but don't work, or at least don't work so clearly well that it is worth doing, and says politics got in the way of studying this problem.

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article - A May 2020 meta-study on pandemic influenza published by the US CDC found that face masks had no effect, neither as personal protective equipment nor as a source control.

https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/masking-lack-of-evidence-with-politics/ - no evidence for the effectiveness of cloth masks against virus infection or transmission.

https://web.archive.org/web/20200818072706/https://www.uea.ac.uk/about/-/new-study-reveals-blueprint-for-getting-out-of-covid-19-lockdown - mask requirement was of no benefit and could even increase the risk of infection

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/04/commentary-masks-all-covid-19-not-based-sound-data - University of Illinois concluded face masks have no effect in everyday life, neither as self-protection nor to protect third parties.

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2006372 - cloth face masks offer little to no protection in everyday life.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.30.20047217v2 - An April 2020 Cochrane review (preprint) found that face masks in the general population or health care workers didn’t reduce influenza-like illness (ILI) cases.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.01.20049528v1 - "evidence is not sufficiently strong to support widespread use of facemasks”


http://www.asahi.com/sp/ajw/articles/13523664 - Japanese researchers found that cloth masks “offer zero protection against coronavirus”


https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/4/e006577 - A 2015 study in the BMJ Open found cloth masks may increase infection risk.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2019/02/01/Millions-in-Japan-affected-as-flu-outbreak-grips-country/9191549043797/ - Japan, despite widespread use of masks, had influenza epidemic.

https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M20-6817 - The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers.

Updated July 2021 - https://swprs.org/face-masks-evidence/ - "...studies found little to no evidence for the effectiveness of face masks in the general population..."

May 2021 - https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.05.18.21257385v1 - "....Mask mandates and use are not associated with slower state-level COVID-19 spread during COVID-19 growth surges...."

September 2020 - https://aapsonline.org/mask-facts/ - "The [mask] recommendation was published without a single scientific paper or other information provided to support that cloth masks actually provide any respiratory protection."

January 2021 - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/eci.13484 - "... we find no clear, significant beneficial effect of NPIs (non-pharmaceutical interventions) ..."

June 2021 - This is an article not a study, but has some good references - https://www.spiked-online.com/2021/06/01/governments-need-to-stop-playing-god/ - "... Several peer-reviewed studies have been unable to find any interesting correlation between the stringency or duration of lockdowns and lives saved. ... Much of this information has been available for a very long time already – certainly since early winter – yet many governments have continued stubbornly dragging out their lockdowns. ..."J

July 2021 - Another article and not a study, more references to John Ioannidis getting ostracized and punished - https://www.city-journal.org/panic-pandemic - "...the smear campaign succeeded in sending a clear message to scientists everywhere: Don’t question the lockdown narrative...."

The block of articles saying cloth masks are not good at blocking disease and Covid below are unverified by BrianW. (I have not read all of these) and  they come from a post on reddit, included for my own notes to review later:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29395560/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32590322/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15340662/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26579222/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31159777/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4420971/
https://medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.01.20049528v1%E2%80%A6
https://medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.30.20047217v2%E2%80%A6
https://nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2006372%E2%80%A6
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2749214%E2%80%A6
https://cmaj.ca/content/188/8/567%E2%80%A6
https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5779801/%E2%80%A6
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19216002/
https://aaqr.org/articles/aaqr-13-06-oa-0201.pdf%E2%80%A6
https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4420971/%E2%80%A6
https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/65/11/1934/4068747%E2%80%A6
https://jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bio/23/2/23%5C_61/%5C_pdf/-char/en%E2%80%A6
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01658736%E2%80%A6
https://journalofhospitalinfection.com/article/0195-6701(91)90148-2/pdf%E2%80%A6
https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2493952/pdf/annrcse01509-0009.pdf
https://cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/04/commentary-masks-all-covid-19-not-based-sound-data%E2%80%A6
https://nap.edu/catalog/25776/rapid-expert-consultation-on-the-effectiveness-of-fabric-masks-for-the-covid-19-pandemic-april-8-2020%E2%80%A6
https://nap.edu/read/25776/chapter/1#6%E2%80%A6
https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994%5C_article%E2%80%A6
https://academic.oup.com/annweh/article/54/7/789/202744%E2%80%A6
https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6599448/%E2%80%A6
https://acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M20-1342
 




The Question that became Political AFTER VACCINATION: Should You Still Wear a  Cloth Mask After being Fully Vaccinated?
Updated 4/29/2021 with this section.  The CDC right now says that fully vaccinated people still need to wear masks.  I consider that not based on any science.

NEW EDIT Updated 5/14/2021.  The CDC has flip flopped on this, the scientific consensus was too overwhelming and they looked like fools.  Here is one article: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/cdc-plans-drop-mask-requirements-fully-vaccinated-people-n1267249

EVEN NEWER EDIT Updated 3/2/2021.  The CDC flip flopped several times, today the CDC says "no masks after being fully vaccinated" again.

This next section below was written 16 days before the CDC caught up with my opinions on 5/14, then the CDC reversed for 8 months, and now the CDC has caught up with my opinions again on 3/2/2021....

Here is one article that expresses my views pretty well: https://archive.ph/mIsC8 Title: "Biden's speech sent the wrong message about the power of our vaccines".  Here are some select quotes:

"200 [members of Congress] ... entered the 1,600-person-capacity House chamber spaced apart and wearing masks. Some appeared to be double-masked. ... According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest report, there were only 7,157 breakthrough infections among 87 million fully vaccinated people — a rate of 0.008 percent. ... there is most likely no one who has coronavirus in a room of 1,600 vaccinated people..... Over-correction has a price; at best, it makes public health measures seem performative rather than science-based. At worst, it calls vaccine efficacy into question."

Copied from other sources (not that article), here are some of the OTHER recommendations the CDC makes that people are permitted to ignore:

• No sushi, ceviche, or raw shellfish. (“To avoid foodborne infection, do not eat raw or undercooked fish, shellfish, or food containing raw or undercooked seafood, such as sashimi, some sushi, and ceviche.”)

• No eggnog, homemade Caesar dressing, runny eggs, or eating raw cookie dough. (“Avoid foods that contain raw or undercooked eggs, such as homemade Caesar salad dressing and eggnog. Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Do not taste or eat raw batter or dough.”)

• If you are at a restaurant, “ask your server if they use pasteurized eggs in foods such as Caesar salad dressing, custards, tiramisu, or hollandaise sauce.” Commentary by BrianW here: I've never heard anybody do that (despite the CDC recommending it), and I would not find it acceptable behavior if they did.

• No rare steaks. (“Thoroughly cook poultry and meat.”)

• Never cook anything – even in a microwave - without also using a food thermometer. (“Use a food thermometer to make sure food cooked in the oven or on the stove top or grill reaches a temperature hot enough to kill germs. . . When reheating, use a food thermometer to make sure that microwaved food reaches 165°F.”)

• Limiting alcohol intake to “2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women.

• "Don’t swim or shower while wearing contact lenses because germs can be carried from the water into your eye."

• "Using a condom, dental dam or other barrier method every time you have oral sex can reduce the risk of giving or getting an STD."

• “Make sure kids wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, even if they know how to swim.

• “Brush teeth thoroughly twice a day and floss daily between the teeth to remove dental plaque. Visit your dentist at least once a year.

• "Women should consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day."

• Wearing reflective vests when walking at night. (“Increase your visibility at night by carrying a flashlight when walking and wearing reflective clothing, such as reflective vests.”)


BrianW commentary: How many of the people following the CDC's recommendations on double masking AFTER BEING VACCINATED have been ordering in sushi, cooking rare steaks, and drinking multiple glasses of wine?  They are careful to double-mask, but are they wearing reflective vests at night?   It is important to note these are all rational suggestions that might keep you healthy, but terrible mandates.  That's the point of the CDC: suggestions.   The same should be true for masks, it simply doesn't make any scientific or social sense to mandate that fully vaccinated people wear masks.  It elevates Covid to a status never seen before, where we accept deaths by obesity at some rate, but do not accept deaths by Covid at 1/1 millionth the same rate.
 

Charts And Graphs:
Some interesting charts and Graphs.

3/27/2021 - The chart below shows "excess deaths" in the USA are far FAR FAR lower on March 20th, 2021 than a moment 3 years earlier in 2018.  But in 2018 there were no economic lockdowns, no mask mandates, people did not talk about the pandemic and fear for their lives, and in 2021 these things all came to pass.  (Chart below also available here: https://i.imgur.com/zLQ0Vty.jpg )  From the CDC website: https://cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm

 

Economic lockdowns effect on deaths due to Covid by state: no correlation what-so-ever:

Chart from: https://shahar-26393.medium.com/not-a-shred-of-doubt-sweden-was-right-32e6dab1f47a showing "excess deaths" in Sweden comparing 2017-2018 to 2020-2021:

Another chart from: https://shahar-26393.medium.com/not-a-shred-of-doubt-sweden-was-right-32e6dab1f47a showing Sweden's trending "excess deaths" over the years:

 

A chart of Sweden deaths vs Austria deaths over time.  Austria is one of the most locked down European countries, and they have higher deaths:

 

In the chart below, it shows "Deaths broken down by Age" (also available here: https://i.imgur.com/7u7wgew.jpg )

 

Chart below shows zero children ever died of Covid-19 in California as of 5/14/2020. From https://downloads.aap.org/AAP/PDF/COVID-19 State-Level Data Report 5.14.20.pdf  Later there were 2 deaths where there were MASSIVE and HORRIBLE pre-existing conditions and the parents ignored the dehydration in their children too long and didn't take them to the hospital to get a fluid IV to save their lives.  I would argue this is child neglect, and not due to Covid-19, but when we are talking about statistically ZERO children it isn't worth arguing about.  The point here is if your child is healthy, there is no way, shape or form of any concept to think they can die of Covid, because IT JUST DOES NOT OCCUR. And this is GREAT NEWS, what kind of sociopathic monster wants children to die, or parents to worry?  Because parents DO NOT NEED TO WORRY.  Also see article about how fewer Children died TOTAL during the pandemic: https://time.com/5929751/childhood-mortality-2020-covid-19/ "Fewer Children Died in 2020, Despite the Pandemic. Experts Are Trying to Figure Out Why".  BrianW typing here: it seems pretty clear why.  Covid-19 simply doesn't kill healthy children, period, end of story.  Meanwhile keeping children out of streets, quarantined away saves their lives.  It might destroy their psychological well being, but locking them away saves their lives.  It creates a very interesting moral dilemma: should you always do what is physically safest, even if it damages other things like "fun", or "the economy" or "mental health"?


 

Summary Chart of How Many People Die Each Year of All Causes
2016 - 2.71m people died in the US, total. [1]
2017 - 2.81m people died in the US, total. [2] (an increase of 0.02m = 100,000 additional deaths this year)      
2018 - 2.83m people died in the US, total. [3] (an increase of 0.02m =   20,000 additional deaths this year)
2019 - 2.85m people died in the US, total. [4] (an increase of 0.02m =   20,000 additional deaths this year)
2020 - 2.91m people died in the US, total. [5] (an increase of 0.06m =   60,000 additional deaths this year)
 
So between 2016 and 2017 there was a "larger event" than Covid-19, but nobody noticed, there were no economic lockdowns, no panic, no 24/7 news cycle.
 
The official numbers are that 336,802 people died "from" Covid-19 in 2020 in the US. [6] but there weren't enough "additional deaths" for that to make much sense.

Sources:
1 - https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_05_tables.pdf
2 - https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr68/nvsr68_09_tables-508.pdf
3 - https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db355-h.pdf
4 - https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db395-H.pdf
5 - https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/the-cdc-reports-more-than-2-9-million-deaths-in-the-u-s-in-2020-at-least-377000-more-deaths-in-2020-compared-to-previous-years/
6 - https://covidtracking.com/data/national/deaths
extra: https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/USA/united-states/death-rate which shows the death rate climbing every year since 2013.


WHO Flip Flops on Herd Immunity below. From: https://summit.news/2020/12/23/who-changes-definition-of-herd-immunity-to-eliminate-pre-covid-consensus/
"The World Health Organization has changed the definition of “herd immunity,” eliminating the pre-COVID consensus that it could be achieved by allowing a virus to spread through a population, and insisting that herd immunity comes solely from vaccines."

 

California mask mandate timelines overlaid with infection rates:

 

I like the chart below that floated by where it categorizes causes of death by age group in a fairly easy to understand way.  I have not verified these numbers or the accuracy, and I don't have an original source, but it is a good idea to present data this way to people about their upcoming mortality (with numbers adjusted for accuracy of course).  Click on the chart for a larger more readable version.

a

 

 

All done.

Return to Random Stufff

Return to Ski-Epic home page.